How to Crowdfund Your Next Album or Music Video — Without Resorting to Begging
At Wysidio, we’re all for artists taking control of the reigns in their careers, and sometimes that means finding ways to make things happen against all odds. As we all know, it can be hard to make money from your art, especially when you’re just starting out. But oftentimes, you need money to make money.
Crowdfunding can be a great way to get the cash you need to record your next album, film a music video, or buy a new instrument. First, the bad news — between 60 and 75 percent of crowdfunding ventures fail. But, hey — you’re an artist with indisposable talent at your fingertips!
By harnessing your creative power and implementing some best practices, we are confident you can raise the money you need to keep your career moving forward.
Here are some tried and tested tips the most successful crowdfunding projects utilized — so you don’t ever have to resort to begging.
Give yourself enough time
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by not giving yourself ample time to spread the word about your campaign. That being said, a sense of urgency is very handy in getting people to actually enter their credit card info and donate.
A good goal is to raise about one-third of your total revenue goal in the first day of your campaign. When we say “first day,” we mean first day you are actively launching and promoting it, not the first day you create it on the platform. Start planning every element of your campaign about 1.5 to 2 months in advance for your best chance of success.
During this planning time, you should create or decide the following:
- Platform: There are many crowdfunding platforms to choose from, including Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Crowdfunder, just to name a few. PledgeMusic is a music-specific platform, but it really doesn’t matter what you choose; it’s the content you put on it that matters. Do check into the fees and functionalities of each before you decide on one. Check out this list of six crowdfunding platforms for artists to narrow down your search.
- A preview: Give funders a taste of what you’re working on to garner interest in your project. This could be a demo song, an album trailer, a video concept, or anything else that visually or sonically depicts what you’re raising money for.
- Your goal: Time for a bit of math. Estimate the costs it will take to get your project finished, i.e. costs of studio time, mixing and mastering, album artwork, marketing plan to promote it, video team, editing, etc. Make sure to also factor in the percentage your crowdfunding platform will take as well; each platform differs so read the fine print on this.
Offer a variety of intriguing, funny, and valuable gifts
A free album download is an obvious perk for your donors, but what else can you offer them that will make them smile or encourage them to donate?
No matter what, incorporate at least a few expensive levels, because you never know what backers will spend until you try. Again, urgency is key; the less amount you have of higher-priced, more exclusive gifts, the more likely it is that someone will be motivated to go in on that level.
The sky’s the limit on your creativity, but a few unique offerings we’ve seen include a band members old car spray-painted and signed by the band, the ability to appear in a band’s music video, and a personal performance at a backer’s house party.
What gifts should every crowdfunding project have in? Physical copies of your album as a CD or vinyl, credits on the album or video, and some type of merch, like a sticker or t-shirt. Here’s a list of 96 gifts to get your wheels turning.
Tell a great story
Get people emotionally-invested in your project by creating some quality content that tells a story about why you’re doing it. Include information on how you hope to affect others with your project and why they should donate to it. Whether you go the funny or sentimental route, leave your audience feeling SOMETHING about your project that is memorable.
A video is the best piece of content to pair with your ask, because video is the number one type of content that is shared and viewed online. Keep it less than 3 minutes, use good lighting and a tripod to make it look professional, and you should definitely utilize some of your music in the video.
Images will also help get your message across better than text alone. You should especially leverage images for the various sponsor levels. Here’s some inspiration for telling a great crowdfunding story.
Spend a little to make a lot
Facebook and Instagram advertising is a great and cost-effective way to reach potential donors. You can simply expect to put up your page and see the dollars pouring in; you must put time and effort into sharing and promoting your crowdfunding ask.
Utilize the video you made as an ad, and throw a little money behind it; even $25 can get you far. You can target it to reach people who like your music page and their friends to reach those who are most likely to care and donate.
Keep up the momentum
Reach out to small bloggers in your city with a press kit of your project and the accompanying content you created. Also, give backers an incentive to share that they donated on Facebook. For example, you could choose one lucky backer to win a signed poster for sharing your project with their friends.
When you meet your goal, or are getting really close, throw a party! Host a preview of your album at a friend’s house or local venue, and stream the show live on Facebook to get more backers.
Case study: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
We just gave you a lot of advice, so you may be feeling overwhelmed. Let’s see it in action by looking at a real-life example of a crowdfunding project done right by artists Pigeons Playing Ping Pong.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong needed to fund their fourth studio album Pizazz. They start out their ask with the “why”; the band had been touring around playing hundreds of shows a year and was bursting with inspiration they wanted to share with their fans. While on tour, they created a live album, which they gifted to all backers for free once they reached their goal.
They added a sense of urgency by giving away a very special gift to their first 50 backers of $100 or more: a private soundcheck party at a headlining show. $100 would go far for their album, but wasn’t too hefty of an ask for fans and was certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Other backer gifts included limited edition merch (again, a sense of urgency), vinyl art, postcards and albums signed by the band, and VIP access to an upcoming show.
Top backers of $1,000 or more received two guestlist spots to every 2017 show and even an upcoming festival the band was playing, as well as the standard merch gifts. Considering some festival tickets cost $1,000 alone for 2 passes, this was a great idea for diehard fans that was both affordable without expending too much of the band’s own time or money.
They continually updated their backers with new prize additions and thank you messages as they inched toward their goal. They gave themselves 30 days to reach their goal, and blew it out of the water, coming in at a final amount of nearly $22,000. Check out their crowdfunding page on Kickstarter for more details.
The most powerful tool in your crowdfunding campaign is your inner circle. Make sure to get as many friends and family onboard before you launch for the biggest chance of crowdfunding success. Good luck, and let us know how your project is going on Facebook — we’d love to share your success!